“Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?”
An image from my childhood home provides inspiration: A framed photo of my family's olive tree with its stumpy figure, gnarled roots, and uneven snow-covered branches reveals the incredible resilience and strength of character developed over its 1,400-year life.

I'll never forget the day I harvested olives with my dad. My little black-stained hands hung onto the ledge, as I watched two monstrous stone wheels roll around and around, crushing a ton of olives and extracting their tangy oil. It was the end of a long day, during which my father taught me about our land and how the olive trees provided precious livelihood for us Palestinians.

Working with my own hands instilled in me a sense of pride and purpose that I now want to inspire in people across the Arab world. Seeing firsthand how the chance to create bestows upon individuals a sense of personal responsibility and a respect for their work and their community, has motivated me to provide such opportunity for disenfranchised people by promoting entrepreneurship. I want to give aspiring entrepreneurs the skills and courage to try and to fail, to learn from their failures and to emerge stronger, empowered to build lasting endeavors that contribute positively to their communities.

This is a daunting mission. But just as the olive tree can persevere in the face of everything nature throws at it, I too, will not be afraid of the elements.


— Laila Kassis